Is a sandwich a healthy meal?: When you're on... - Healthy Eating

Healthy Eating

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Is a sandwich a healthy meal?

Cooper27 profile image
Cooper27Administrator

When you're on this forum for long enough, you notice there is no consensus about what a healthy diet actually looks like from one person to the next.

If you look up healthy lunch ideas, many sources will recommend sandwiches are a healthy option, so I thought this would be the perfect food item to debate.

I want you to answer 3 questions:

1. Do you think a sandwich is a healthy meal (the bread is from a regular loaf from any supermarket)?

2. Why do you think that?

3. How would you make a sandwich healthy for you?

Now, I want this debate to be friendly. We need to respect everyone's arguments here. If I see anyone saying another's opinion is wrong, I will delete that reply!

(Image credit: google.com/amp/s/www.olivem... )

63 Replies
Cooper27 profile image
Cooper27Administrator

I'll start my opinion for full disclosure

1: I don't think it's healthy eaten regularly

2: I'm gluten intolerant, but I also find too much processed food has an impact on my overall health and energy levels.

3: I might occasionally eat a sandwich made with gluten free bread, if I need something on the go. For the most part, I would tend to find alternatives, like sweet potato slices.

Happyman4 profile image
Happyman4 in reply to Cooper27

I think the obvious answer is, it depends on the sandwich..I definitely think what I make are healthy.

Chicken salad in wholemeal bread with a little mayonnaise.

Prawn salad sourdough bread with a little mayonnaise.

How about a nice cheese, onion and tomato.

Or my cowboy sandwich of bacon and beans..

Salami...yummy yum in my tum.

I don't think I've ever had an unhealthy sandwich in my life 😁

Cooper27 profile image
Cooper27Administrator in reply to Happyman4

Oh salami sandwiches are my favourite! Or just a plain old ham with salty butter :)

Happyman4 profile image
Happyman4 in reply to Cooper27

Ham, I love a plain ham with butter sandwiches, though I do like a bit of old hot English mustard on it sometimes 😊

Edit.. Smoked salmon with whatever you fancy with it..😁

1 - When I was actively aiming at a Mediterranean diet, I would have said yes, it can be a healthy meal, but isn't always.

2 - A sandwich can be a reasonable healthy meal, if the bread is wholemeal, and if the sandwich includes some protein and plenty of salad, making it well balanced. I did always buy my bread from a bakers, and avoided the plastic wrapped supermarket loaves. However, I have now decided that it is healthier to eat considerably less carbohydrate, and so I see sandwiches as less healthy than I used to think.

3 - Now I have been diagnosed as coeliac, sandwiches are never a healthy meal for me. I don't believe shop-bought gluten free bread is healthy - it has a horrendously long list of ingredients, including at least one additive that I know disagrees with me, so for me it counts as an over-processed food.

Jerry profile image
JerryAdministrator

Hey a great question Cooper and yes in my world a sandwich is healthy because I bake my own gluten free bread and have a sandwich with salad.This was my lunch yesterday it’s freshly baked gf bread with strong cheddar cheese and lots of salad plus I have baby tomatoes with it.

But do I think that supermarket and bought sandwiches are healthy and no I don’t especially if they’re made with regular white sliced especially as were asked not to feed it to the birds!

When I’m on the go I buy ready made salad and fruit as I avoid processed foods.

Gluten free sandwich with salad.
Cooper27 profile image
Cooper27Administrator in reply to Jerry

I think I'd eat a sandwich every day, if I could make a half decent loaf of bread, like you seem to make Jerry!

Jerry profile image
JerryAdministrator in reply to Cooper27

Awe thanks Cooper 👍😊

Happyman4 profile image
Happyman4 in reply to Jerry

Perfect cheese and salad sandwich Jerry, I see your putting your brown bread to it's best use 👍😊

Jerry profile image
JerryAdministrator in reply to Happyman4

Hey thanks 👍🙂

happytulip profile image
happytulip in reply to Happyman4

Wenslydale and beetroot is a pretty tasty combo!

Happyman4 profile image
Happyman4 in reply to happytulip

Was out shopping most of the day and had a look round for Wensldale cheese..but there was none to be found in the two main supermarkets in pattaya..bought some cheddar and cream cheese though. 😊

thara9643 profile image
thara9643 in reply to Happyman4

yummy

I love beetroot and I think it goes with most cheeses. 🙂👍

Oldham65 profile image
Oldham65 in reply to happytulip

I love both Wensleydale and beetroot whether it's fresh or pickled. Do you like Wensleydale and cranberry cheese? This is one of my favourites 😋😋xxxx

What constitutes healthy for one person, is unhealthy for another. I’m gluten intolerant like yourself and also eat a low carb diet, so sandwiches are not something I really eat. I suppose that means I don’t regard them as a healthy kind of food for myself and I wouldn’t consider eating standard supermarket gluten free bread that often. I only resort to sandwiches when travelling and then I make my own low carb bread rolls or gluten free bread. Sandwiches have their place and they are better than pies or pizzas or other junk foods, but I see them as a quick meal replacement rather than a proper meal.

No.

In a typical sandwich, half the volume or more is bread. It's nutritionally nearly empty, filling up your stomach leaving little room for protein or veg. I used to eat a sandwich for lunch most days, and struggled to get my 5-a-day.

That is not true of the sandwich illustrated, but that's not really a sandwich. I couldn't get my mouth around that. If that was in front of me, I am not sure how I would eat it - maybe lift the bread and eat the filling as a salad. But then, what is the point of the bread at all? Why not leave it out all together.

But a typical sandwich, the main ingredient is wheat flour.

And then there is the issue of carbs themselves. We are eating too many of them. The 40-60g of carbs in a typical sandwich is a lot, and will likely result in raised blood sugar for hours afterwards, producing damaging glycation.

I haven't eaten a sandwich for more than 18 months, and haven't really missed them. On a couple of occasions when I have been hungry and only sandwiches were offered, I have just eaten the fillings. Interestingly, that was enough food as I am no longer glucose fuelled. The second bonus of skipping the bread, is most of the spread and mayonnaise is left on the bread, which considering they are mostly made from rapeseed or other industrial seed oils, they are best not eaten in quantity either.

The type of bread doesn't matter as much as people think. Wholemeal and white bread have similar GI, and sourdough doesn't seem any better either. I am a little concerned that people who can eat gluten are nevertheless opting for gluten free. Gluten is a protein, so gluten free bread is higher in carbs and lower in protein.

Maybe they are healthy for some of us, but you can't really know that unless you have monitored your blood glucose after a meal. I seemed healthy for nearly 40 years eating a lot of bread and other grains, with excellent WHR, HDL, glucose etc. But eventually it comes time to pay the piper.

Skip the bread!
Cooper27 profile image
Cooper27Administrator in reply to Subtle_badger

Would you ever try keto bread, or are you over sandwiches now?

I made a really nice keto mug bread once, when my partner really wanted a burger bun, but I wasn't able to eat bread. It's not bad.

Funny you should say that. I tried a mug bread a year ago, enjoyed it but somehow haven't made it since. healthunlocked.com/weight-l...

I also bought a waffle iron to make chaffles, but have only made them twice in a few months.

So theoretically yes, but practically? no.

Cooper27 profile image
Cooper27Administrator in reply to Subtle_badger

I know what you mean! I thought I'd make it regularly but I haven't tried it once since 🤔

Also, I visited a keto restaurant and tried a sample of almond flour and found baguette. Initial impression was fine, but after chewing for a few moments, I found it was quite unpleasant.

Also, I think it cost £5

For me, a sandwich is a perfectly healthy meal (assuming you aren't coeliac, of course). I think we obsess far too much on not eating this and making sure we eat some of that etc etc. Even if you eat a sandwich every day for lunch, it will presumably be balanced out with what you eat for your other meals. Easy to make, easy to pack, it is healthy fast food for when you are on the go, (or even when you are chilling out in the shade with your feet up, like I am now!)

No to supermarket bread. Ok for traditional bread. Read this to find out more. theecologist.org/2007/may/0...

Bread should be so simply but if you look at the ingredients of Hovis wholemeal why are they putting in e481 and e472e? The emulsifiers are normally the sign that enzymes have been added which do not need to be declared. I regard supermarket bread using the Chorleywood method as processed food.

I have Warburtons wholemeal and it has more additives than my supermarket ciabatta. 🙂

Can it be any surprise that so many people have wheat intolerance? Maybe people have supermarket bread intolerance.

I bake my own bread. I can trust the ingredients.

Probably is supermarket bread intolerance.

Yes, homemade and homegrown is by far the best. I would like to make my own but I don’t think I would be able to knead it. 🙂

There are excellent artisan bread shops around. Maybe you will be lucky and find one near you. Normally sourdough breads tend to be ok.

Thank you.

I have started to have sourdough bread and I find that it makes very good toast. 🙂

Hi Cooper27, This is very good and fun post for us to share our perspectives. 😁👍

Ofcourse, what type of sandwich to conclude if it is healthy. By the look of the pic is a no for me as I see that red bacon. 😅

I go for standard nutritional facts stated at first glance to make my decision if I want to pick up that sandwich prepared by store: Is there trans fat, gluten, how much sodium, sugar, additives? Enough fiber, protein, vitamins , minerals for my health needs? How much carbs go into that sandwich based on what I have eaten so far or plan on later?

I don’t usually have sandwiches but just a simple toast and put on my fresh ingredients of veggies and choice of protein, healthy organic gf sauce. 😋

Cooper27 profile image
Cooper27Administrator in reply to GreatMindfulness

Sorry, it was just the nicest looking photo when I googled "sandwich" 😆

Baconator 😂 Thank you for making this post! 😁👍

Hi Cooper, interesting question. I don't eat sandwiches anymore really as I find that they have to many carbs and I am better with gluten free bread etc. So I would say.

1. No, they aren't healthy, especially when there is hardly any filling.

2. To many carbs, not enough slow release energy. I'm hungry again in an hour.

3. I have switched bread for wraps or sourdough as I can tolerate them far better. I often make a really enjoyable sandwich filling but put it in a wrap. It's easier to digest, eat and I can have more filling.

4. (My own little edit). I did once live next door to an Italian deli. It was the best in the area and I was always skint as a result but their freshly made ciabatta which was stuffed with sun dried tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and Parma ham were to die for. Oh I really miss that place. So healthy or not, that is the type of sandwich that I would enjoy if I had one again. Not the 'plastic supermarket' bread type that is just full of sugar.

Everyone has their oddities though and when I am sick and land up in a flare up or in hospital I crave egg mayo sandwiches with added salt and a mug of tomato soup. I can't stand them any other time but when I'm not well that is what I live off. Maybe it's my body telling me what I need? Who knows. But we all have different unique needs and maybe an egg sandwich is my cure?😂

Cooper27 profile image
Cooper27Administrator in reply to happytulip

That ciabatta sounds lovely!

I'm a bit like you actually, the first thing I crave if I'm ill, is always toast with butter. I don't know if it's learned behaviour, or because it's easy energy for the body? Your egg sandwiches at least have protein though :)

happytulip profile image
happytulip in reply to Cooper27

I think our bodies tell us what we need to heal us .Whenever I get a dip in health I always get some crazy craving and feel better for having it. Our bodies need that extra bit of energy sometimes.

Oldham65 profile image
Oldham65 in reply to happytulip

Sorry to interrupt. I do like the sound of that deli, your ciabatta sandwich sounds scrummy. I would like that deli at the end of our road😋😋😋😋

This is really interesting as there are so many variables. Also when we say 'healthy' what are we comparing it to...a KFC lunch or a McDonald's for lunch ( you get the idea!) I bake my own bread so there is no added sugar and the fat I use is butter and not seed oil. The spread I use is butter and I usually include green leaves and protein. I know bread isn't great but breads can vary in quality and the quantity eaten is also important. Also what else you eat during the day can have an impact. A sandwich probably isn't the most healthy of lunches but taking the above factors into account is is definitely not the most unhealthy. Once again great discussion. Thanks Cooper 27 👍

Bread no-to much sugar in it-Ezekiel bread is best for me. And it’s good! I love sandwiches, so much you can do, make it your own.

Cooper27 profile image
Cooper27Administrator

I'm really loving all these replies - you've risen to the challenge well everyone!

In my student days a bacon and fried egg sandwich with a gooey yolk and a dash of ketchup was a medicinal necessity after a night out 😁

I think that sandwiches are healthy☺️ As long as you put healthy things in it 😊

Oldham65 profile image
Oldham65 in reply to Hb2003

Very true Hiba xxxx

Hi Cooper27,

I think that this is a very good question, although I don't think enough of a full 'health expert' to give enough details in my answers!!

1. I think a sandwich can be a healthy meal- I love eating different and flavoursome sandwiches when I can make the opportunity to!

2. There is absolutely no reason why a sandwich can not be a healthy meal- At the moment, when I get the opportunity to make a sandwich, I make sure that I use a nice loaf of bread, and ingredients that I thoroughly enjoy! (making sure that I don't restrict myself with the size of it!

3. I always make sure that I add lots of colourful and tasty ingredients in the sandwich- making sure that I add with it a nice hot herbal tea or fruit juice with it!

Fran182716 profile image
Fran182716Prediabetic

It depends on the bread and people’s individual needs. I prefer Wholemeal bread and either bake my own wholemeal soda bread ( flour, buttermilk, baking soda and salt) or have Vogels seeded Wholemeal (this is made by traditional not Chorleywood process, and is higher in fat and fibre)I have a sandwich most days, two small slices. When I tried to eat “low” carb I just couldn’t get enough fibre from veg to keep digestive system running smoothly, but this amount of wholewheat does the trick. I don’t eat high starch “white” carbs except occasional couple of new potatoes, so this amount of bread is healthy for me.

I think that a sandwich could be deemed healthy. For myself I use wholemeal/ rhy combination bread. But, not daily after bowel cancer a decade ago bread of any kind tends to block my system. So probably sandwiches are healthy depending on whose eating them.

Yes a sandwich can be healthy. I would use two slices wholemeal bread from a small 400gm loaf. Use extra light cheese triangles instead of butter, my filling of choice would be chicken or ham (home cooked so no preservatives) salad from the garden and tomatoes on the side.

Its not often that i make a sandwich,but when i do i love it.I try out many types of bread,but Farmhouse seeded i like very much,i do have a breadmaker but rarely use it because the bread is stale next day.

This thread has awakened my tastebuds so right now i am eating a sandwich of seeded bread with farmhouse butter,2 slices of bacon,melted cheese,tomato & cucumber with a smidgen of chutney.

Whether its healthy i have no idea,and to be honest i dont much care,its not like i eat a sandwich every day.

Funny thing though,i always think other people sandwiches are better than mine.

Good morning secrets, I meant to have my breakfast ages ago but went into the garden and got sidetracked. You have made me very hungry, your breakfast sounds wonderful and I don’t think I could make a more tasty sandwich. I won’t say I hope you enjoyed it because I just know you did. 🙂👍

Hi Roddy thought you'd like this someone else likes a tuna sandwhich 😁😻

🤗

I have to say there is nothing better than a good butty and sometimes the ease of a sandwich being made at home prevents you from going out buying your lunch which for me normally resulted in buying the sandwich then a bag of crisps chocolate bar ( to stop me feeling guilty a banana 🤪) and May be a dinky pork pie and can of pop.I think as long as you find a good bread ( I have the good fortune of where I live somebody near me has there own micro bakery and his bread only has 4 ingredients it’s best bread I have ever had)

And then put plenty of green stuff in and keep the Mayo to small amounts can’t go round I also like using wraps can get loads of salad stuff in there and cuts out need for butter so again makes it a bit more healthy and it’s saves a fortune over the week.

I think a sandwich can be part of a healthy balanced diet, just not every day. Add protein and plenty salad and healthy fat and it can be a good and filling meal.

I personally like chicken, avocado and pesto mayonnaise on crusty seeded bread with a large side salad.

I planned to answer your great question yesterday before anyone else but got waylaid. Now there's 45 replies! Well done!

You're right to prevent unfriendly replies but most/all seem good to me.

For what it's now worth, I probably would have said it wouldn't normally be classed as healthy per se but not too unhealthy if of the right type eg sourdough. Personally I don't include bread in my strict diet.

For others, it may be more unhealthy than for myself and so should at least be limited. For example, my mum has blood sugar (and related kidney) issues so has reduced bread intake albeit sourdough. Dad also limits his intake.

Cooper27 profile image
Cooper27Administrator in reply to userotc

Thanks - I've been impressed by the really varied responses :)

userotc profile image
userotc in reply to Cooper27

Indeed. Looking forward to the test certificates you're distributing. Lol

Do your parents monitor their blood sugar? I know lots of people think sour dough is healthier, but I found this interesting article yesterday, where some people actually had more of a glucose response to sour dough than white bread. 🤯

theatlantic.com/science/arc...

It might be worth your parents checking what is true for their metabolisms

Many thanks. It could be very opportune actually! Short answer is my parents are both currently rechecking their blood sugar. In brief:

1. Mum's has 1h level has improved considerably in the past 4y from ~11.3 mmol/l to ~5 now. Her fasting level average is ~6.

2. Dad's 1h level seems to have worsened over the same period from 4.7 to 6.5 and his fasting level is now 6.3. The latter was ~5 approx 2y ago however that was a venous result and all the others above (for mum & dad) are capillary prick results.

After research just today, Ive discovered there is some uncertainty re best accurate measurements (venous and capillary) so we will retest, consider more venous etc.

However, based on the article you linked, there seems to be a possibility that sourdough bread is not good for dad! Note they only converted to sourdough ~1y ago.

Ill keep you posted by pm if I uncover anything new.

Are your parents in the UK and do they have smart phones? They could get a free 14 day cgm.

sample.freestyle.abbott/gb-...

2 weeks they could see how everything they eat affects their glucose. I gather the numbers are slightly different to blood measures, but the shape of the curves should be enlightening

Thanks but it states you must be diabetic to register!!

I don’t know about bread from a supermarket, I have always made my own using spelt flour, an ancient flour used by the Romans and I fill it with anything vegan. My homemade sandwiches are healthier than their supermarket counterparts.

I also bake with organic stroneground wholegrain spelt. I do add 25% stoneground wholemeal wheat too. I found this combination held the bread together better. Flavour is good too. Good quality bread is a great addition to making a healthy sandwich.

What vegan fillings do you use? Might give me a few ideas to vary my sandwiches.

I don’t think I’d ever go back to shop bread now, mine tastes so much better.

Home made bread

I did it again today. I had an opportunity for a free breakfast, so selected sausage on a sourdough muffin. Popped the top and ate one of the 3 sausage halves before taking a picture.

Even without the muffin, it's pretty dirty compared to my normal fare; the second ingredient in the sausage was potato starch, and the mango ketchup was 17% sugar, but it was tasty!

After I finished the sausages, I had a chew of the muffin, but it's no longer food to me, and I delicately removed it from my mouth, and wrapped it up with the rest of the muffin and took it to the park where the pigeons enjoyed it more than I did.

Back when I was eating bread, I would have eaten it all, and 3 or 4 hours later been hungry again and (as I was on the go today) probably had another sandwich. But I had the sausages about 8 hours ago, and I am still not hungry.

Nothing will convince me that eating this sandwich (and the next) is healthier for me than leaving it for the birds. I'd be 20kg heavier and have 20cm thicker waist if I did. Obesity and visceral obesity are not healthy.

Sausage muffin
Zest profile image
ZestStar

Hi Cooper27 I include wholemeal bread from our local bakery as a regular feature in my life - and I enjoy it with soups and also enjoy it as a sandwich. Today's lunch was a Beef & Tomato sandwich with wholemeal bread and butter, and I also had a couple of stuffed peppers alongside. It was really tasty and I consider it to be healthy for me.

There was a recent study of the benefits of wholegrains in the British Journal of Nutrition - and that also was interesting to read. If anyone would like the link to that, I'll add it here - but I don't have it to hand just now. It should be easy to look it up though.

I will attach a photo of my sandwich.

Zest :-)

Tasty sandwich - Beef & Tomato on Wholemeal Bread

Hi I think a wholemeal bread one with salmon and a full salad is very healthy my healths very good I eat lowerring cholestrol buttery spread and limit cheese I don't eat meat now my blood tests re cholestrol are 4.3 I'm just less than 9 stone underweight really i have toast on morning so about 4 bread a day I am 57 I don't see why a sandwhich is in healthy as there's no sugar in it apart from bit in bread unless homemade I was sufferring from bloating until cut down on white bread and potatoes that's my only issue with bread 🤗

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